5S: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain

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The 5S system basically asks that you keep your desk completely clutter-free. No stacks of papers, no photos of the kids, no Halloween decorations, not even a sweater hanging on the back of your chair.

I cracked up at the thought of implementing this “system” in our agency. First of all, many of our folks have been here for over 5 years so they tend to accumulate a lot of “what knots” and personalize their works spaces.  For example, Dennis would have a terrible time eliminating his menagerie of trinkets. Where would he put the Carmen Miranda hat? Or his Foam Finger? Or the super-hip dinosaur sipping a cold one?

Dennis at his desk

Or there’s Donovan, whose hobby is photography. Just look at the assortment of beautiful pictures he has of his family. Yep, I can only imagine the response I would get if I told him those shelves could not contain any personal items.

Donovan at his desk

And then there’s Kati, who has been here the longest of the three, and well, the picture tells you just how much she loves having photos of her family and knick knacks all around her.

Kati at her desk

I suppose 5S works in manufacturing work environments, where space might be at a premium or these little things could become hazards. Or in those offices where people move around with their laptops and no space is really “theirs” to claim. But in our agency we want our folks to feel at home while they’re here at work. Special moments caught on film, company bowling trophies, shot props from projects they have worked on, bobble heads, foam rockets, action figures (as Jim prefers to call them), autographs and icons are all clues about who they are and where they have been.

In our shop we call it 6C: Creative, Cute, Custom, Crazy, Cluttered Cribs


  • Danielle
    November 25, 2008, 9:17 pm  Reply

    From working at CurrentMarketing to now working straight out of the scene in Office Space I can tell you this much: when the familiar and fun are taken out of your space it is no longer yours. Like the beige cubicles I am subjected to day in and day out, I, too, feel a bit beige. Everyone seems to blend in with the office walls rather than stand out as I once knew.

    Before taking my new job I talked with my manager, who’s name will remain anonymous, and told him that if I can’t make this space “mine” I cannot work here. I am NOT a beige person and I refuse to just blend in with these walls. And even in all my decorating I’m terrified by the walls that still stand and the beige that still lies beneath. I graduated in Communications and cubicles defy every sense of the word. I long to thrive again in a 6C environment.

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